#1
Hi UG.

I've been practicing scsales and melodic ideas for a few weeks now, and when I'm by myself I seem to be doing okay. Not brilliant, but well enough to get by for a bit.
However, I've been in lots of jamming situations the last few weeks, and have to perform a blues piece as part of my uni course tomorrow, and in these jams and rehearsals, I seem to revert to a mediocre playing ability.

For example, when I'm by myself, I'll practice different voicings of chords and the like, but when it comes to the rehearsal, I don't incorporate any of them, and when I try to, they sound sloppy and messy.
I try and relax my hands when I'm practicing things like scales in my room, but when it comes to playing with others, I seem to cease up and play the exact same things repeatedly, and stay in one position in the neck for example.

Also, as a side note, because I've only got a small 10w practice amp (Yamaha something or other) which has a horrible distortion sound, I'm constantly playing clea, and I'm worried that I won't progress without practicing with a more driven tone. When I play some of the amps at unis, like Marshall MGs (keep the bashing down), that DO have some usable driven sounds, it sounds very tinny and amateur.

Am I doing something wrong, do you think?
Need help please, it's annoying me that I can't seem to express myself the way I'd like to when I'm with other people.
Quote by strat0blaster
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#2
do you play while seated or stood up? It might be the problem if you practice while being seated...or you might want to adjust the strap 'cause the prob seems to be in how comfortable you feel. Example: If I play seated I play really sloppy,if my strap is too high I play too sloppy. When I feel my guitar on the lower part of my stomach I play excellent
#3
I actually had advice from an old guitar tutor about that, so I decided it might be best to alternate haha.
I'll sit down some days, others I'll stand. Just to make sure I can do it both ways, and it seems fine.
Quote by strat0blaster
HA!

Well played, my friend.

I'm going to edit that awful grammar right now


Yay, I'm sigged!!
And a grammar nazi..
#4
You might have a fear from crowds of some sort. I mean when playing in front of people to become less efficient. It ain't that worrying tho if that's the problem,try playing in front of a mirror,gain some confidence,that might be the cause of your problem,to believe you ain't that good. You have to believe you're THE MAN! You have fingers as fast as lighting,technique as flawless as *insert generic actress which you adored while in puberty", your wrists can twist 1080 degrees and you play faster than Racer X's weak-ass beginner I've noticed how confidence plays a major role,I have confidence there so I play great in front of friends and while at home.
#5
Haha I think that might be a part of it, but my mind just seems to shut down when I'm playing with other people.
Admittedly, I'm not the most confident in the person as well - I'm actually very shy!
However, I don't think that's entirely whats going on, I seem to have some inability to use the things I'm practicing when I actually need to use them.

Even things such as alternate picking. I've been practicing that for a few months, running up and down scales as well as making up a few melodies using it, but when it actually matters, my hands seem incapable of doing it and it actually annoys and upsets me!
Quote by strat0blaster
HA!

Well played, my friend.

I'm going to edit that awful grammar right now


Yay, I'm sigged!!
And a grammar nazi..
#6
Quote by sTarbuck
Haha I think that might be a part of it, but my mind just seems to shut down when I'm playing with other people.
Admittedly, I'm not the most confident in the person as well - I'm actually very shy!


Relax! You're around other musicians, so just relax and have a good time jamming with them, even if it's for a grade. Just don't get so relaxed you muck about .

Quote by sTarbuck

However, I don't think that's entirely whats going on, I seem to have some inability to use the things I'm practicing when I actually need to use them.

Even things such as alternate picking. I've been practicing that for a few months, running up and down scales as well as making up a few melodies using it, but when it actually matters, my hands seem incapable of doing it and it actually annoys and upsets me!


Again, relax! Go with the flow. Try jamming to a few backing tracks for a few hours and take it slow. No need to rush it. Learn a few licks here and there and modify them if you want and try to incorporate it when jamming to the backing track.


Quote by sTarbuck


Also, as a side note, because I've only got a small 10w practice amp (Yamaha something or other) which has a horrible distortion sound, I'm constantly playing clea, and I'm worried that I won't progress without practicing with a more driven tone. When I play some of the amps at unis, like Marshall MGs (keep the bashing down), that DO have some usable driven sounds, it sounds very tinny and amateur.

Am I doing something wrong, do you think?
Need help please, it's annoying me that I can't seem to express myself the way I'd like to when I'm with other people.


Marshall MG's certainly aren't quite as bad as people say, but they aren't very good either, the tinny amateur sound is the amp, so try turning up the middle and bass and turn down the treble. Also, if you are only using the bridge pickup, use a mixture of the bridge and the middle pickup (or the neck pickup if you don't have a middle pickup.)

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Last edited by osXtiger at Dec 1, 2009,
#7
Why don't you try the following...
it's really dreadful but it works...


stop playing for about 3-4 days or if you really need it stop playing for a week... just the pain of thinking about it makes my hair stand up :X But to be honest I play the best after I've took "a break" from the guitar.

Also take note that,as most of your knowledge (not only guitar),you have to practise it to really learn it. And I don't mean just practise,that's only 1/2 of the learning road. The other 1/2 of the learning road is applying it until you know when and how to apply it. Try jamming along to a favourite song being the third guitar or something like that. You'll notice how you'll learn to apply those scales in the proper place whenever you feel like it's needed. A good example of great application of a lead guitar is Queens Of The Stone Age-Go With The Flow. The lead guitar rips this song up,you've got to admit it. He just places those short bursts so great that they bring you to an orgasm The same way,learn to apply that knowledge within you properly. Not just make melodies based on scales,base the scales over the melodies. I don't know many scales,but my way of learning is more from the Aural side rather than theoretical. It's a long way but it works wonders I can apply a lot of scales just because I've taken the time to study my fretboard (not the notes,just where and what combined with what makes a melody happy,sad,mystical etc.) And most importantly don't neglect the psychological side of this matter. It might all be because you feel ashamed or want to prove your skills but can't apply them properly.
#8
Thanks guys.
The thing is, I've been playing with backing tracks for ages. It just never seems to pass over. Maybe it is psychological.
Thanks for the advice.
Quote by strat0blaster
HA!

Well played, my friend.

I'm going to edit that awful grammar right now


Yay, I'm sigged!!
And a grammar nazi..
#10
Ditto then mate
Quote by strat0blaster
HA!

Well played, my friend.

I'm going to edit that awful grammar right now


Yay, I'm sigged!!
And a grammar nazi..
#11
Ultimately what you're practicing has little or no relation to what it is you're trying to do - that's your problem.

If you want to learn how to improvise and jam then that's what you need to be practicing so throw on a backing track and start noodling around. Keep it simple first, perhaps limit yourself to one section of a scale at one part of the fretbard or even just a couple of notes.
Focus on what you can do with that limited selection, it'll force you to work a little harder to be creative within those limits but there's no reason you can't make an interesting melody.

If you're struggling to come up with ideas and are pretty much just running through scale patterns then put the guitar down and simply try to think of something in your head, once there's something there you can figure out how to play it on the guitar.
Actually called Mark!

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#12
Seagull, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't wanting you to come and throw a few pearls of wisdom this way!

Thanks to everyone, I'll try and get better
Quote by strat0blaster
HA!

Well played, my friend.

I'm going to edit that awful grammar right now


Yay, I'm sigged!!
And a grammar nazi..
#13
The one thing that got me over the worst of my nerves of playing/improvising in front of people was recording stuff and posting it on my profile here - I used to freeze even in front of my teacher before that. As soon as I thought anyone was listening half my brain would be screaming 'your gonna suck, they're gonna laugh....' so loud I could hardly hear myself play lol

Putting stuff up for people to crit here feels safe, because you never have to meet them in real life, but when you get some positive feedback, and realise that the negative feedback doesn't actually hurt and helps you get better, its a major confidence boost and makes it a lot easier to face people you know too.

Get some new bakcing tracks too - don't just keep using the same ones. If you're anything like me you'll end up playing very similar stuff over them after a while which kind of defeats the object. Make your own BTs to play over - that lets you use those differnt chord voicings you've been practicing too.

See if you can jam informally with mates too, or even just play with the door open so you know people can hear you. The more you do it, the easier it gets, until eventually you can focus on just playing and enjoying yourself rather than getting stressed.
#14
^ good advice. Basically, you need to find an in-between step - someone supportive that you can play for, and who'll give you constructive criticism - like a family member or a good friend.

The other thing - build up a library of stock licks (nothing too difficult - you need to be able to handle them even if you're having a bad day) that you can fall back on when you are nervous. Just knowing you have them there as a safety net will take away a lot of the nervousness.
#15
Yeah. In a similar sort of vein, I was thinking about asking a local teacher for a couple of lessons. Might be just so I can ask him a couple of questions (this topic being one of them), but maybe that would help?
Quote by strat0blaster
HA!

Well played, my friend.

I'm going to edit that awful grammar right now


Yay, I'm sigged!!
And a grammar nazi..
#16
Quote by sTarbuck
Yeah. In a similar sort of vein, I was thinking about asking a local teacher for a couple of lessons. Might be just so I can ask him a couple of questions (this topic being one of them), but maybe that would help?
Can't hurt. At the least it gives you someone you can regularly play to and get feedback from.
#17
Yeah I remember feeling like that and trying to play very quiet so as to not be heard or something. Then eventually I just said screw it I want to play the way I normally play.
It's basically just an act of taking the bull by the horns and playing in front of people regularly without shame. Don't be afraid to make mistakes.
#18
Cheers everyone

If there is any more advice or things I should consider, please do tell me as I'd love to get out of this rut at the moment.
Quote by strat0blaster
HA!

Well played, my friend.

I'm going to edit that awful grammar right now


Yay, I'm sigged!!
And a grammar nazi..
#19
Quote by zhilla
Make your own BTs to play over - that lets you use those differnt chord voicings you've been practicing too.


Oh dear lord you speaketh the truth.

I am so lazy lately and haven't recorded much of anything but this is golden advice I haven't been utilizing.
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#20
Use music as a form of expression. Because that's what it really is. Use to express whatever you're feeling. If you're feeling lost and helpless w/ your playing, express that in musical language. Do this until YOU are satisfied.

Its not emotional expression always. Not sentimental sorts. It could be done in soo many ways. Look at different forms of art. All forms of art is about expression. See how they express themselves. Especially painting. They have a LOT of innovation. Musically theres a lot to learn from there. Just understanding how Picasso draws figures is amazing.

I also think expression is also about perception. And expressing your personal perception. Or maybe someone elses for that matter. But if you're able to successfully express your perception, you will have a individual style. And thats when you'll become famous overnight.

For record, I'm in the same playing standards as you!
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Last edited by invincibleneo at Dec 3, 2009,
#21
confidence is the key. I almost failed a few really simple songs in my guitar class and even failed my E major scale because I thought I wasn't good. I taught myself to play harder songs at my house and still failed in public, until I started to get more arrogant. Tell yourself you are good.
When an adult has one imaginary friend it's called insanity. When lots of adults have the same imaginary friend it's called religion.
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#22
Its not arrogant to have belief in yourself. Don't worry about getting arrogant - you can still be conscious of what you need to improve. Just believe in what you can do - if you know you can play something well at home, all you need is a bit of self confidence to play it just as well in public.

If you think you come across as mediocre in jam situations you might as well just go for it - what've you got to lose? You aren't gonna sound any worse than when you're playing timidly, so just go out and have fun and see what happens. Once you've made yourself do it once, it will be a whole lot easier second time, and then each time after that.
#23
Cool, I'm from Manchester and the like, so might have some of that Gallagher brothers.. "charm".

During jams and the like, I realise that I get quite sloppy as well. Silly things like unwanted strings ringing. Is that just me as well? If I feel more confident, do you think that kind of thing will sort itself out, or is it more about me concentrating more?

Thanks guys by the way! I feel like I'm at some sort of guitar psychiatrist.
Quote by strat0blaster
HA!

Well played, my friend.

I'm going to edit that awful grammar right now


Yay, I'm sigged!!
And a grammar nazi..
#24
I reckon you get more sloppy for 2 - no 3, main reasons:
1 - you're nervous so your fingers aren't behaving as well as normal
2 - you're half thinking about your audience rather than focussing on playing
3 - you notice every mistake you make because you're worried everybody else will be listening for them

Other people generally aren't going to notice your mistakes - not least because everyone gets nervous to some extent, so the guys who have already played are going to be relieved it went ok (or beating themselves up if it didn't), so they aren't really going to be listening that hard, and the guys who have yet to play are going to be too busy thinking about their turn to take that much notice of your mistakes

Try not to worry about the mistakes and just play. As you get more comfortable your hands will work more like normal, so you'll make less mistakes. Which will make you more confident. So you'll make even less mistakes...and so on
#25
Quote by sTarbuck
Cool, I'm from Manchester and the like, so might have some of that Gallagher brothers.. "charm".

During jams and the like, I realise that I get quite sloppy as well. Silly things like unwanted strings ringing. Is that just me as well? If I feel more confident, do you think that kind of thing will sort itself out, or is it more about me concentrating more?

Thanks guys by the way! I feel like I'm at some sort of guitar psychiatrist.

Hopefully you'll have dodged that bullet
Actually called Mark!

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People with a duck for their avatar always give good advice.

...it's a seagull

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#26
Quote by steven seagull
Hopefully you'll have dodged that bullet


Oh I have!
Quote by strat0blaster
HA!

Well played, my friend.

I'm going to edit that awful grammar right now


Yay, I'm sigged!!
And a grammar nazi..